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Hephaestus' Forged Letters

QOTW Guest Blog

Hello, Bloglodytes*!

Gaea's unavailable this week, but it made her sad to think of you all out there, anticipating your quota of QOTW, so here I am.

One of the perrenial questions we get asked is what it's like to work in the Three Rings office. It is Teh Awesome place after all. The sad fact, for a lot of us OMs, though, is that we don't work there! As some of you may know, a lot of the Ocean Masters work from home, and there's a very good reason for this. YPP is a worldwide enterprise, and if someone's spamming the inns, griefing your playstyle at 12pm Central European time, you don't want to wait five hours for those Californian types to wake up, eat their granola, and get on their surfboards over to the Three Rings office to sort it out for you. You guys never sleep, so neither can we.

This means, sadly, that many of us rarely see the hallowed halls of the office, except on occasional pilgrimages to the mothership. So the question, I suppose, becomes what's it like to work outside the Three Rings office.

My day starts much like most peoples' - I get up, get dressed, eat my breakfast, and take my dog for a walk. Some would say, working from home, that the getting dressed part is optional, but I always do it, for two reasons. First, I feel it's difficult to summon the correct gravitas to adjudicate on serious issues in one's pyjamas. Second, the other people who walk their dogs on the field I go to sort of demand it. The walk serves me as a sort of replacement for the daily commute that most people experience, though unlike the bus, my dog is rarely late.

Then I settle down at my desk, fire up the forums and staff chatroom, and see what's caught fire while I've been asleep.

Myself, I am based in Merrie Olde Englande. We're eight hours ahead of game time here, so as my day starts, the office staff have long since gone to bed. Hence, this phase of the day is usually characterised by my reading the conversations that have gone on, and realising that they happened five hours ago, and all the witty replies I'm coming up with are a bit late.

As my shift starts, I log on to the oceans I'm covering. Depending on the time of day, and how busy it is, I'll be on between two and six oceans at the same time. How can I keep any eye on this many oceans? This is my desk:
(Click for a better look)
All four screens work off the one mouse too. Groovy huh?

I'll be fielding your petitions and complaints all morning. Sometimes you'll get a quick response, but sometimes you'll have to wait a while; if something complex or time consuming turns up, like a theft from a crew's ships, working on that can create quite a backlog. Once it's done, it's a matter of working through that backlog. So if you've ever had to wait a while for a rename, that's why!

Once my early shift is over, it's lunchtime. Due to the way my shifts work out, I won't be on again until the evening, leaving me with a six hour lunch break to play with. If I had to pick one thing I love about being an OM, it'd be that I get my time off in the afternoon, not the evening. Later, in the evening, I'll be back on, and by that time, it's office hours back at the office. This is essentially when I get to check in with the guys in the office, unless of course it's the weekend, which with me, it usually is :)

So, that's my take on working out of the office. Part foreign correspondent, part night watchman.

* literally, "blog goers". Clever huh? No? Oh well, please yourselves.
PS. This entry got lost in the space/time continuum when the blog was relocated. Fortunately, I was able to reverse the polarity of the neutron flow, and divert it through the flux capacitor, allowing me to go back and retrieve it.

FAQ (fatuously answered questions)

I was just on my way out of here, when I noticed that there were some quick questions for me, so here's a little postscript....

Did Hephaestus and Aphrodite come into the game at the same time as a coincidence?
As far as I know! As I'm sure a lot of players may do, I had my "if I were an OM, which god would I be" worked out long before I ever seriously considered applying for the job. You see a lot of New Agey veneration of various earth and nature gods (sorry Gaea!) but not a lot of love for those hard-working gods who, if real, would be responsible for all the comforts we take for granted. So let's hear it for Hephaestus, God of Gadgetry, Hermes, God of Telecoms and the Internet, and of course Prometheus, who gave us fire, and started us off on the long road to the techological society we live in today.

As such, Heph certainly wasn't suggested to me, I'm pretty certain Aph didn't know what my pick was going to be when she picked, so unless she says different, it's all a sparkly coinkydink!

Do we blame (your) pegleg on Zeus or Hera?
Actually, that one's all down to Artemis.

If we could build a temple anywhere on any ocean to host rituals and sacrifices in your name, where would you want to put it?
Hard to say. I wouldn't like to get cornered into "mi favirt iland iz." I suppose the obvious pick is Hephastus Forge, isn't it? Cochineal is said to be a volcano crater, so that'd be another option. Havoc and Diastrophe are also suitably volcanic. Blackthorpe on Sage looks a bit like a volcano crater. Immokalee looks about ready to erupt too...

What should be sacrificed there? Would you require a special dance or song or...something?
The worship of Hephaestus should involve the messing about with cool gadgets, playing video games, and crafting stuff. So pretty much continue on as you are.

Mortals say "oh my god".  What do gods say?
Nothing, we just go straight for the banstick.

Alien Autopsy

One question has been on the minds of enquiring pirates this week - Malacats! What are they? Where did they come from? Why are they green? Hang on - that's three questions! Clearly there's a lot to answer here, and it's not going to be answered by idle speculation. Science experiment!

So, I headed on up to the Palace Shoppe, and bought myself a bag of Malacats. This brings us to the first experimental fact we learn about Malacats. Put more than about four of them in a sack, and things start to get ugly. I'm not sure that's too relevant, however, I think that cats get like that anyway.

Much squalling and scratching later, however, I got them all back to my Secret Aboveground Laboratory. As you can see, they're quite a handful.

Experiment 1.

Now, the first and most obvious question first - are these cats who've simply fallen in some dye? Well, there's only one way to check...

Man, I tell you, if you thought cats didn't like going in a sack...

Early results looked quite promising, with the new Light Green dye producing something that looked a lot like a Malacat. However, cats are pretty fastidious creatures, and set about washing themselves immediately. Short of steeping a cat in some mordant, I don't think we'll see a permanent effect. However Malacats got the way they are, I believe it's natural in origin.

Experiment 2
The next hypothesis is that they're native to Malachite. The evidence for this so far is that they appeared not long after Malachite was released. Seems pretty persuasive to me. However, we know for a fact that no ships can travel between oceans, and thus there's no trade of items between oceans at all. So if they're Malachite natives, how did they get everywhere else? Can they swim? How can we test that...?

Out to sea with two of my new companions. One of them is following me, one of them is roaming the ship. Fools! They suspect nothing!

We've arrived at the testing area. So far, both Malacats appear to be enjoying the life on the ocean wave. Onward!

Here Be Monsters! A Triketos and a Gorgonyx are nearby. They don't appear too interested in us. Fortunately, I planned ahead, and brought some swabbies with me, so I plank a couple as bait.

That got their attention! The Triketos turns, sneezes a few spears at us, and it's all over. The gorgonyx swarms in close, and hoovers up the remaining wailing swabbies.

Back home at the Forge - and they're ok! Nightmare, Seraph and Piggy McLaren welcome their new emerald overlords. Oh and yay! Pegleg! ...oh, wait...


  • Yes, Malacats are excellent swimmers, and could quite conceivably traverse the uncharted, unfathomable expanses between Malachite and the other oceans.
  • Swabbies are delicious.

Experiment 3.

To all intents and purposes, Malacats appear to be perfectly normal kitties. They get on well with normal cats, so I don't think they're from another planet.

I think that the answer is likely to be much closer to home. I believe that there may be something in their diet that cats just can't get on Midnight, Cobalt, Sage, Hunter or Viridian.

Just about lunchtime, we leave the experimental subjects in an enclosure in the laboratory.

An hour has passed. The cat seems well-fed and relaxed.


Well, there you have it, proof positive. Malacats are the way they are, purely because they live on a diet of Malarats. Nothing could be simpler. And I didn't have to dissect any of them.

Wait, if that's the case, why are Malarats green?

Quiet, you!


No cats, triketoseses or gorgonyxes were hurt in the making of this blog. Some rats and swabbies, though.

Best of the Best

As you may already have noticed*, interested parties have now been invited to apply for the post of Ocean Master.

No doubt you're all furiously updating your CVs, honing your letters of application, and telling your boss where he can stick his lousy job, because "I'm gonna be an OM!" You may well be wondering, however, what happens next? How best to prepare for the next stage of the selection process? Well, as one of the most recent Shiny New Hands, I am in a good position to tell you about the way it all happens.

Second-stage hopefuls are invited to a secret location to participate in selection tests

The morning of the first day is a meet-and-greet, followed by an address by Our Leader. After that, we break for lunch.

As you have probably noticed, the Ocean Masters are a literate erudite lot (with the obvious exception.) This is of course one of the basic requirements of the job. Although that's mostly selected for in the CV sifting stage, we kick off after lunch with an essay test, just to establish that you're OM material. This might sound a bit daunting, but it's really not. I don't know what the set question will be this time around, but I seem to recall that when I applied, the question was something like "How, if at all, is van Fraassen's constructive empiricism an advance on the logical positivists' philosophies of science?" So, really, as you can see, just a formality. Nothing to worry about.

The first day's testing complete, the applicants are dismissed, but this is far from the end; although they are released to the OM barracks for rest, sleep is not permitted. Testing will begin again at 8am, and any applicant who falls asleep in the meantime is excluded from the selection process. Ocean Masters are marked by their endurance, if you can't make it through the selection process without sleep, you'll never make it in the real world, soldier!

Ocean Masters must be able to evaluate and dispense judgement on situations quickly and accurately. This is tested the following morning on the shooting range. The range is a scale replica of Alpha Island on Midnight. The applicant is must advance along a predetermined route, along which targets representing ban evaders, filter evaders and alt abusers pop out of the doors and windows. Applicants are judged on both their speed and accuracy, with points knocked off for any greenies killed. Only the eight highest scoring applicants will progress past this stage.

After a simple meal, the selection process concludes with the surviving applicants participating in a single elimination, no-holds barred blindfold martial arts tournament. This takes place in an octagonal caged arena in the centre of the compound. I really have only two pieces of advice here. The first, though you won't be told this, there will be a range of weapons strewn around the arena walls - if you can find it, I recommend the bat'leth. The second - watch out for those tigers! (I asked Cleaver later on which part of the OM role this stage tested, but he just shrugged and gave me a manic grin.)

So, as you can see, whilst there's quite a lot of mystery and mystique surrounding the process, Oceanmastery really is just like any other job.

*If you have not yet noticed, then I'm afraid that you've failed the first test. Better luck next time!

Pirates vs Ninja vs Science

In the last exciting installment of Blog!, Apollo answered the perennial question - who would win in a fight, pirates or ninja? And while his reasoning certainly seems sound, I thought we could put this to the test, and finally settle the question once and for all. Science Experiment!

Here I am aboard ship. Clearly, not ninja enough to conduct this experiment.


For this experiment, I have also selected a black/black skull dagger, and some black leather gloves, should martial arts be required. You will note that there are no swabbies in the picture; as a ninja, I work alone, since ninja are well known to be affected by the Inverse Square Effectiveness Law (i.e. the more of them they are, the more useless they are.) Professor Monkey is here strictly as an observer, and will not take part in any of the tests.

So, off I go, taking the experiment into the field ocean! Soon enough, I am engaged by the Witty Sailfish, an  orange sloop, containing garden variety brigand pirates.

Diagram 1: Fools! They suspect nothing!
Diagram 2: Eschewing crude, loud cannons, as a ninja should, I resolve to sidle up to my opponent stealthily, and grapple him.
Diagram 3: As it turns out, being a lone ninja, I quickly run out of sail tokens. The Witty Sailfish obligingly sidles up to me stealthily, and grapples.

As we see in Diagram 4, the pirates have had no compunction about using crude, loud cannon, and I'm starting with a row of cannon damage. Still, I am confident that this rabble is no match for my superior ninja skills!

Diagram 5: Victory! Almost. As we see in the bottom right, Loud Luana has indeed succumbed swiftly to my blade. So die (almost) all who oppose the Ninja! Unfortunately, at this point, the other five pirates mob me, and it's all over very quickly.

Conclusion: In a fight, Pirates win. Ninja work best alone, whereas the more pirates the better!  One-on-one, a ninja may have the advantage, but that never happens. Also, we can clearly see that eschewing loud, clumsy weaponry is a grave mistake. Go Pirates!

Next Week: Robots vs Zombies.

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